Josh Gordon was a troubled receiver coming out of Baylor who was taken in the supplemental draft. Two years in the NFL and he has established himself as one of the most dynamic and dangerous receivers in the league, racking up over 2,400 yards in receptions and 14 touchdowns despite having Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. No one questioned the 6’3″, 225 pound receiver’s talent coming out of Baylor, but his drug problems were widely known.
This off-season has been filled with Josh Gordon news and for all the wrong reasons. His drug use is likely going to keep him out of the league for at least a year and probably longer. The Cleveland Browns just spent a first round pick on Johnny Manziel with hopes he can be their franchise quarterback. However, they failed to take another receiver in the draft despite Gordon’s issues off the field and the lack of depth at receiver on the team. Are they setting Manziel up for failure? No.
What made Manziel such an intriguing prospect is the unconventional way in which he dominated the college level. He has incredible field instincts and movement ability and used those tools to dominate as a passer. His movement in and outside of the pocket manipulated the defenses as well as creating space for his own receivers. He basically did the receivers jobs for them. Manziel’s money-maker at wide out in college was seventh overall pick and current Buccaneer, Mike Evans. Evans’ dominating size and Manziel’s ability to move a defense around combined for yards and touchdowns galore, but will he have that same dynamic in Cleveland? Absolutely! The Browns have stud tight end, Jordan Cameron. Cameron is a 6’5″, former basketball player who can dominate the catch point at the NFL level like Evans did in college and I would argue that Cameron has better movement skills than Evans.
During Manziel’s freshman year, he had a very good connection with future third round pick, Ryan Swope who was a savvy underneath receiver with great movement skills and he should have a similar dynamic in newly acquired receiver, Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins has tremendous agility that can dominate underneath and speed to threaten deep with. Maybe the surrounding talent at receiver outside of those two is mediocre but the team will not be passing the ball much early in Manziel’s career either. Kyle Shanahan is renowned for his run heavy offenses and the success he can get out of running backs, constantly getting thousand yard seasons out of the previously unknown or forgotten.
The Browns have some studs along their offensive line in Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and second round pick Joel Bitonio and they will pave the way for their talented stable of backs. Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are all very talented and very different running backs who will be able to threaten defenses on every down and take pressure off the passing game.
This offense is incredibly similar to the offenses that Manziel dominated the college level with; Stud offensive line, strong running game, humongous receiving target and a shifty dynamo underneath. This offense shouldn’t miss a beat as long as they are dedicated to running the ball early to set up passes to Cameron and Hawkins. The offense could actually be quite dynamic considering the speed and power they have in the backfield to compliment the running threat Manziel is and with good management, the offense might have the most productive running game in the league.
Josh Gordon is a tremendous talent and losing him will be detrimental to the team. Also, I think that adding talent to the corps in the future should be a priority. However, the team is not setting Manziel up for failure and if anything, we should see success from him early the way this offense is constructed.